A: Hey Sam, it seems you and your buddy Nathan have pretty body control while flying, how long have you been wingsuiting?
S: I have been wing suiting for 5 years and learnt to fly a wingsuit at skydive Madrid, Spain. From the first flight I was completely hooked and spent the last 5 years training my body and mind to fly as well as possible. The control you have with a wingsuit, once you have learnt to fly them is pretty extraordinary. You have the ability to speed up, slow down, corner sharply and fly aggressively over terrain at high speeds but this is not for the faint hearted and takes a lot of training and understanding. It really is like being in control of your own plane and you're the pilot. Flying with Nathan has not come easily, we have dedicated time to being able to fly with each other on demanding wingsuit base jumps and focus our energy in enjoying this moment together. Having a flying partner is a real game changer for most professional wingsuit pilots, being able to study terrain and exit points with someone else makes this game that we play a lot safer and way more interesting.
Sam & Nathan
A: I ran across your High 5 video not long ago although it's been some time the video's out. Obviously, the aim of your project is to raise awareness of people in need, what exactly sparked the project base off?
S: We did the high five video in November 2014 with a team of friends that came to watch and help with the stunt. The aim of this video was to raise awareness towards our charity campaigns we had set up, take donations towards a good cause and then for us to visit Ethiopia and help the local communities out where we would be base jumping. Our saying in Project : BASE is : Implement support, care and health through charity inspired by the exploration of human flight. The reason behind this is that Nathan and myself felt a real need to do something good for people other than ourselves, a desire to help others and be less selfish in our lives.
A: This morning, before I started writing these lines, I had thought about how much water go down the drain and that we don't care at all yet it's vitally important for human kind to survive. It's funny because right after that I saw your second video from Ethiopia. How's it been going with the project in there so far?
S: We had 3 projects set up in Ethiopia. The first was raising $5,650 towards a new water well in the Amhara region. The second was raising $1,400 for a satellite school in the Simien Mountains for school furniture and the third was $3,300 we raised at our fundraiser in Chamonix, France at Les Caves bar. This was going towards refurbishing a previous water well and constructing a new water well in Miligebsa for the local community and school. We are super happy to say that the water well in Amhara is being constructed in April 2015. The school furniture was delivered on 31st April 2015 and the refurbishment and construction of the water wells in Miligebsa are starting in May 2015. It's amazing to have been in Ethiopia and understand exactly where this support is going and the effect it will have on these peoples' lives.
“My aim is to work towards a world where expectations are not set by stereotypes holding back creativity, but by our own personal passions, skills and interests. We have a great force that unleashes our creativity, because if you are passionate about something, you are more willing to take risks.”
A: How many new exits have you found since your stay in the Simien Mountains?
S: After a few days scouting in the National Park with a guide and scout we finally got permission from the park office, this was some pretty good news! Nathan and myself successfully opened 3 new wingsuit exits called Gelada, Goliath's Wall and Vultures Nest. These exits are extremely demanding with short rock drops, mandatory terrain flying, rocky landing areas, extremely hot and thermal landing conditions with long hikes.... just what we like.
A: In case somebody is interested flying in the area, is there anybody who can be contacted there for that matter?
S: Base Jumping in the Simien Mountains is very sensitive to say the least. It took Nathan and myself 8 months of planning to get there and be able to jump but it wouldn't have happened without the contacts and friends we made along the way. With the incentive to help others and show that through our charity work really helped. The good news is, if anyone wants to go and jump in the Simien Mountains all they have to do is contact Nathan and myself and we can help them out, but this is not a guarantee of jumping.
Sam and Nathan did the first ever wingsuit flight in The Simien Mountains National Park, while they were on their Project : BASE charity mission in Ethiopia.
A: Mission Ethiopia seems to be a long-term project. For all that, have you already thought about another one, in other parts of the world?
S: Mission Ethiopia is a long term project and we are planning to continue re visiting year after year to keep the charitable side of things rolling, this is an extremely rewarding feeling that we get. Also, we have found other locations of jumping and hope to develop the Simien Mountains for more wingsuit base jumping. Maintaining this relationship with Ethiopia takes a lot of time but we hope to move further afield to develop other countries in the future.
Sam and Nathan raised $11,000 to benefit the local communities near to the BASE jumping locations.
If you'd like to donate, visit www.projectbase.eu
Photos: © Hampus Jerkfelt